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4 Dumbbell Lateral Raise Mistakes to Avoid!



You certainly had a Santa wish list when you were a child. Now that you're a big boy, I'm sure your wish list has expanded to include new items like bigger pecs, an inch on your arms, and wider shoulder caps.

Bigger delts are on every trainer's wish list because they give the appearance of a smaller waist, increase visual separation from the upper arm, and add the kind of cap that says you're a serious lifter. You know how your shirts have a little extra stretch to them? That's exactly what I'm referring to!

You could be beginning your shoulder workout with overhead presses, just like a lot of other lifters. That is right. The easiest way to separate the middle delts in the lateral (side) plane is to implement lateral-raise movements.

The lateral raise is a well-known technique. Blowing the technique is also a concern, and it can be achieved in a number of ways. The most popular variant, the standing dumbbell lateral lift, can be messed up in seven different ways.

Mistake No. 1: Altering Your Elbow Bend During The Movement


To perform a proper lateral lift, bend your elbows slightly and sustain the bend throughout the sequence. The angle of your elbows at the bottom and top of each rep should be the same.

You're bringing the triceps into the equation if you start opening and closing at the elbows, weakening the middle-delt separation you're trying to achieve.When you increase the weights, they should preferably follow an arc rather than a straight line. Keep an eye on yourself or make someone else keep an eye on you while you perform this maneuver; if you're paying attention, this blunder isn't difficult to fix.

Blunder #2: Excessive Weight Loss


Maintaining tension on the middle delt during each rep is the best way to develop these target muscles. You're not putting any strain on your delt if you bring your hand all the way down to hang by your side or in front of your thigh.

Furthermore, when you begin lifting from a completely extended stance, the supraspinatus (a rotator-cuff muscle) initiates the movement before the middle delt head. That means your goal muscles aren't being worked in the first few degrees of your lift.

Stopping the action with your hand several inches from your side is your best bet. This will make re-lifting the weight a little more complicated, which is just what you want, right? Lower the weight all the way if you want to work your supraspinatus a little more. When you lift it again, though, avoid using too much weight or making jerky movements, as these can result in injury.

3rd Mistake: Dropping The Elbows


Beginners sometimes make the mistake of waving the weights up and down without lifting their elbows to their sides. As a result, the upper arms don't have a wide range of motion, which can sabotage middle-delt gains. That is why you should always try to "Lead with your elbows" to ensure that they complete the full range of motion.

When the elbows don't move much, the advantages of this middle-delt movement are effectively negated. Your elbows are just about halfway up, despite the fact that your hand is where it should be at the tip. Make a mental note to always lead with your elbows.

Mistake #4: Stopping Motion At Shoulder Height


Even though the middle delt's range of motion stretches further overhead, most people do lateral raises to around shoulder height. You can get a little more contraction out of your middle delts by continuing up to around 45 degrees above parallel. (You'll even need some of the upper traps.)

When your range of motion extends above your shoulders, you'll possibly need to reduce your weight. Try doing a few heavier sets to shoulder level, then a few more with a slightly lighter weight at a 45-degree angle above parallel.

Lifting above your shoulders is probably not a good idea if you have shoulder impingement or discomfort. If this is a concern, consult a sports medicine doctor before attempting to increase your range of motion.

Blunder #5: Extending your arms to their fullest extent


In rare occasions, you'll see someone doing lateral raises with their arms completely extended. The person at the top of the movement appears to be attempting to shape the letter T. The elbow joints are put under a lot of stress when they are completely extended. Locking out a joint, no matter what workout you're doing, is never a good idea.

Blunder #6: Locking The Elbows In An L-Bend


It's a common misconception that if you put a major bend in your elbows (approaching 90 degrees) instead of a small bend in your elbows, you will lift more weight in a lateral rise. Yes, you can increase the weight, and yes, the upper arm would have the same range of motion. However...

In physics, the "lever arm" principle states that the further a weight is from your body, the more difficult it is to lift. Let's presume you can lift 35 pounds and have been performing lateral raises with your arms almost completely extended. Then you start doing the raises with your arms bent at 90 degrees, and you'll notice that you're able to lift a lot more!

Try straightening your arms a little more if you think the extra weight means you're getting heavier. Is it possible to complete your reps with that weight? Most likely not. That's the physics' lever-arm rule in motion.

Blunder #7: Never Refer to Delts as "Medial" Delts.

It's not uncommon for people to talk about their "medial" delts. There isn't anything like that. The correct term for delts is "middle." Stick to real names if you want to know the right name—and sound like you know what you're talking about around the gym.